It’s the waning days of summer, and our elected state officials are bored.
So to stay occupied, the governor and legislative leaders have invented themselves a little controversy to bide their time until school starts.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this month decided that all the fancy new toll-collecting cameras couldn’t function unless every single New Yorker replaced their license plates with brand-spanking new ones. That’s not just for the family car. That’s your boat, motorcycle, truck, RV, everything.
For that, the governor wants to require everyone with a license plate older than 10 years to replace it, taking $25 out of your wallet for each one.
He tried to make a game of it by posting an online survey to pick a replacement — five milquetoast designs that included one brazenly featuring the new bridge named after his father.
If you hop on the highway and take an informal poll, you might spot one or two license places that you can’t read because the paint’s peeled off or they’re somehow damaged. But for the most part, most plates are in good condition and show few signs of wear and tear.
Other states’ plate readers seem to have no problem reading license plates, from our state or any other. But New York MUST replace its plates or it will somehow miss out on toll revenue.
Even the $25 replacement fee the governor wants is not set in stone. All the law says is that the state can charge up to $25, which means it can charge less. And given that plates are made by prisoners making 10 cents to $1.14 an hour, and the fact that most other states charge way less than $25 for their residents to replace their plates, there’s no way New York needs to charge $25.
Not many people really care what their license plates look like. And with dozens of unique designs available from the state for vanity plates (for a hefty additional fee, of course), the state clearly isn’t a stickler for consistency.
And most importantly, the state DMV already has a procedure in place for inspecting and replacing peeling and damaged license plates.
Yet our state officials persevere.
The governor suggested the Legislature come back to Albany to change the fee, something lawmakers are always loathe to do. Legislators, particularly Republicans like fiery Sen. Jim Tedisco, are getting press by standing up for taxpayers against this money grab.
This whole episode is just kids having played enough Wiffle ball and anxious to get back to their fall routines.
The governor tried to stir things up and got egg on his face. He should abandon his wasteful, unnecessary, unwanted, expensive plan and let the DMV replace damaged plates whenever needed, as it already does.
Then get back to the work of fixing what’s really wrong with this state.